Lindsey Wade is nobody special – or at least that's what she believes. She holds down a boring job as receptionist for a law firm, lives in a modest suburban row house, rarely (unlike her glamorous best friend Cammie) wears make-up or dresses at all fashionably. Although she's not a virgin, she has been sexually scarred by her eight year on-again-off-again relationship with a guy who finally dumped her, deciding he was gay. All that uptight Lindsey wants is peace and quiet, the chance to live her life outside the spotlight.
When Lindsey wins a ticket to a magic show by the world-renowned Angelito Tarrago in an office charity raffle, she's almost too embarrassed to walk up and retrieve it, but Cammie insists that Lindsey attend the performance. The next thing Lindsey knows, she has attracted the attention of the charming, wealthy and sensual magician. With dazzling speed, she is wined and dined, then licked, sucked and fucked. Needless to say she comes to the conclusion that Tarrago is truly the man of her dreams. As he introduces her into his high-society world of gender-bending carnal excess, Lindsey discovers she's far lustier and more sexually daring than she'd ever guessed.
Meanwhile a dangerous but seductive stranger named Dmitri stalks and then abducts her. Her kidnapper reveals that Tarrago is a member of an ancient society of sorcerers and that Lindsey is a descendant of one of their members, the first female magus in their history. Dmitri himself is a magician, outcast from the group. Gradually, Lindsey realizes that Dmitri, not Angelito, is her true soul mate. In fact Tarrago is working on an evil scheme to steal the power of his fellow magicians, a scheme that requires Lindsey's body to be totally debauched by every single member of the society.
Let me begin with a summary, in case you have something better to do that read this review. The Magician's Lover is a pretty dreadful book. The actions and reactions of the shallow characters alternate between being painfully predictable and totally implausible. The sex scenes (which I will admit are numerous) suffer from a lack of motivation (referring both to the individuals involved and to the requirements of the plot) and an overabundance of anatomical detail without any depth or originality. The prose is awkward and overburdened with generic adjectives and adverbs, as well as errors in word selection. Every so often, the steady stream of pornographic description will be interrupted by a paragraph or two full of euphemism and starry-eyed sentiment that would be far more at home in a traditional romance. For the most part, Lindsey is the POV character, but occasionally Ms. Austen flutters off into the head of someone else, without a scene break or other warning.
A few examples will serve to illustrate my criticisms. Here are some of the malapropisms that grabbed my attention:
He had a day or two's worth of dark stubble around the sharp definition of his jaw, and his intangibly bright green eyes seemed to almost sing to her. (p7)
The couples began to ingratiate with one another. One man fucked one girl who had her face buried in the arse cheeks of another, and so on, until Lindsey couldn't tell where the chain started or ended anymore. (p 136)
They kissed like they had been separated for years. No words were said, but they moved in perfect synchronicity. (p 199)
Here's a typical snippet from a sex scene:
With no teasing, she leant forward and hungrily licked at Lindsey's soaking wet slit, making her groan loudly in the process. Lindsey opened her eyes and saw Cammie's perfect arse right in front of her. She paused to admire it a moment: the surprisingly large, round, firm cheeks, and the wet open folds of her sex. Then she gripped her friend's arse with both hands and pushed it downwards toward her face. She plunged her tongue deep inside Cammie's pink slit, the tip of her nose nuzzling against her friend's inviting arsehole. (p167)
I should mention that early in the book, when Lindsey wakes from an arousing dream, she has a totally different reaction:
She had never consciously thought of sex before, let alone touched herself. (p 7)
For the most part, the grammar in this novel is far better than what I've seen in some other first novels, but Ms. Austen seems to be confused about the past tense of the word “grind” (a rather common term in sexual situations), and her editor (if she had one) did not see fit to enlighten her.
She felt their eyes on her and her pussy contracted involuntarily. She rested her hands behind herself on Angelito's knees and grinded her hips in a circular motion. (p 140)
The above error occurs at least four times in the book.
Finally, here's one of the more egregious examples of head-hopping:
As he neared Lindsey he reached out and embraced her tightly, and she felt the proudest and happiest she had ever felt in her life. They kissed like newlyweds.
Once they broke the embrace, Lindsey said, 'Angelito, I'd like you to meet my friends, Jason-' Angelito firmly shook Jason's hand, and something in Jason's eyes gave away how star-struck he actually was '-and Cammie.' The magician held Cammie's dainty hand and kissed it lightly. Cammie melted inside, and tried to fight the feelings that were tearing their way through her body. (p 157)
One thing that this novel does have to offer is lots of sex – especially girl-on-girl sex and orgy scenes. The reviews on Amazon make it clear that this is enough to satisfy some readers. It's true that some of the sex scenes involve minor characters, interrupt the narrative and do nothing to further the plot. If you're primarily interested in wanking, though, you might be willing to forgive these weaknesses.
To be fair, many of the problems that interfered with my enjoyment of this book could have been remedied or at least ameliorated by some vigorous editing. Unfortunately, it appears (based on the final product) that the book received at most a quick once-over.
If I were Ms. Austen, I would be seriously frustrated with Xcite Books. She's new to the publishing scene. The flaws I've highlighted are common to many beginning authors. Given that Xcite accepted her book, they have a responsibility to guide her and to help her avoid some of her personal weaknesses. They did not fulfill this responsibility.
In fact, they didn't even bother to check the PDF review copy they sent me. Due (I assume) to some problem in the conversion from the primary Kindle format, my copy of The Magician's Lover is rendered in a mix of two different fonts, one serif and one sans serif, one bolded and one not, which switch back and forth, even breaking in the middle of words. It's practically unreadable.
On the positive side, the fundamental plot of The Magician's Lover has some promise. The climactic scene, in which Lindsey and Dmitri engage in an apocalyptic battle with Angelito, had enough drama and intensity to engage my attention and distract me from the quality of the writing. The book's ending foreshadows the next installment of the trilogy. I might even be tempted to read it – if it were penned with greater skill and professionally edited.